In April of last year two people were hit and killed by drivers while trying to walk across Northeast 82nd at Alberta. As the most popular route between a busy motel and a neighborhood market, the intersection is very dangerous. Speeds on 82nd (an Oregon Department of Transportation-controlled “orphan highway”) are high, the road is straight and not well-lit, and a slight downhill to the north creates a wide-open feeling for drivers that seems to encourage a lack of caution and care for others.
After Stephen Looser and Anthony Tolliver were killed, ODOT faced stiff pressure to do something — anything — to make the crossing safer. Elected officials called for emergency interventions and activists held a rally to draw attention to the ticking time bomb in ODOT’s hands. A few weeks after the deaths, ODOT lowered the speed limit and promised additional funding to create a safer crossing.
In September ODOT crews built a new crossing treatment at the south end of the intersection. They broke up the curb to make a ramp, installed a yellow “people crossing” sign, and screwed in $9,000 worth of plastic posts and curbs to create a median island.
When I shared a short video of this on Instagram on Monday, some readers were unimpressed. “That seems like it’s a tiny marginal improvement and that so much more must be done,” typed one commenter. “In order to get to the island you have to frogged [frogger] across 2 lanes of 45 mph traffic…This is not making it any better but possibly not making it much worse,” said another.
I reached out to ODOT Region 1 Public Information Officer Don Hamilton to learn more.
He said what’s on the street now is just a temporary update that was put in place quickly last fall before the construction window closed for the year. “The second phase is now in design with construction scheduled to take place this summer. The final design will include a flashing pedestrian crossing beacon, new ADA ramps, and a concrete median island,” Hamilton shared.
“We recognize the need for further improvements at this location,” he added.
We’ll be watching.
Even though ODOT and the City of Portland have finally agreed to transfer control of 82nd, we cannot wait for that funding and planning to be completed before we take immediate measures to protect people who use this street.
Apparently plastic is the new wonder material giving us infallible protection.
Glad that this is just temporary and is going to be a concrete median island next year. Concrete is way better than plastic. And overall I love median islands whenever I walk or run somewhere: they pretty much turn the act of crossing one wide road into the act of crossing two narrow roads (with the added benefit of only crossing one direction of traffic at once). Much, much safer and easier to cross with them. I’d like to see these median islands everywhere.
I find this temporary situation to be quite ugly, but it’s better than nothing and should only be here a few months until ODOT pours the concrete. Now if only PBOT would also learn that these plastic wands should only be temporary measures, and we need more permanent concrete islands/protection…
Except even concrete does nothing to address the multiple threat condition.
What is the “multiple threat condition”? Because concrete does address several problems. Long crossing times in traffic or turn lanes are decreased, meaning the road no longer has to be clear or stopped in both directions to start safely crossing. People cannot pass stopped cars using the center turn lane, addressing another safety problem. The rapid flashing beacons add more visibility to people crossing, addressing that.
I view this as a big improvement once it’s done this summer, especially until the real ODOT/PBOT road reconstruction gets underway in a few years.
This post addresses what a multiple threat is well…
A RRFB will at least better help identify to drivers in BOTH lanes that there is a person actively trying to cross the road.
Sorry to burst the bike advocate’s bubble, but while concrete may protect pedestrians it is a bonafide hazard for cyclists if not designed and installed correctly.
Did someone say poorly designed and installed concrete would not be a bonafide hazard for cyclists?
Maybe they can add a beg button that says “wait”. Wait. Wait. Wait…
$9000 for some plastic sticks. At those costs no wonder we get nothing for our money. Does PBOT even consider spending taxpayer dollars wisely? Given the personal financial mismanagement of their commissioner in charge I’m not surprised by their lack of concern.
PBOT spent $0. ODOT spent $9k. I criticize both agencies, but I do try to blame them for their shortcomings separately. I am definitely not a fan of PBOT’s commissioner – for lots of reasons, but that’s a separate issue.
If you think the price was excessive, maybe you should get a contract to install them. You can help spend taxpayer dollars wisely and make some money for yourself.
PDOT put a bunch of those plastic wands out around 122nd to shorten the left turn lanes for some unknown reason. After a few weeks, many of the wands are now gone.
Why they insist on wasting time, money, and effort on such temporary measures is beyond me.
Nextdoor is abuzz with the news that PBOT will be removing those posts and all the old angry people are happy. Apparently too many drivers were swerving into oncoming traffic to go around them… These continuous center turn lanes are such a hazard. More pedestrian islands and concrete dividers, PLEASE!
I went and checked out Nextdoor and finally found that someone posted an email from a PDOT employee that said the experiment was a failure and they’ll be removing them.
Also, they stated the intent was to show where the left turn lane began. News to me as I kept scratching my head trying to figure out their purpose.
It’s too bad they chose such a poor device to try and guide traffic. As you say concrete dividers of some sort instead would have been better. But of course, with ZERO enforcement people would drive around them (though I never saw that myself).
You’d think after 100+ years of automobile use around the world that there would already be ways to do what they want without having to reinvent the wheel. No wonder folks don’t trust them to do anything right.
The bigger problem east of 205 are the wide roads with wide center turn lanes. They get used as passing lanes all the time. The problem near intersections is that traffic will stop in the two through lanes, and some cars will queue up in the center, left-turn only lane. Then, impatient drivers 30+ cars back (that want to also turn left) will speed down the center turning lane, passing all the stopped cars backed up at the intersection. The danger comes when other/oncoming cars are actually using the center turn lane to turn left across traffic and into roadside businesses, streets, etc. It’s a weird east portland thing (i think?) where people just view that middle lane as their own personal express lane. It leads to sketchy situations, at best.
So the poles are there to stop the idiots from being dangerous. But then they outdid themselves by just driving into oncoming traffic to get around the poles. The future solution is more concrete center dividers and islands, and then more robust ones around intersections and left-turn only lanes, and eventually the people will learn how things should work. But no budget, so yellow poles as a test, that people run over and complain about. I think they would’ve been more successful if there were several rows of yellow poles spaced out 20′ apart or so.
If the intent was to show where the left turn lane began, wouldn’t a dashed line go a long way towards that goal?.
It needs a concrete block ~1000 KG, to absorb the impact of cellphone users and other impaired drivers. Humans don’t absorb so much.
I can drive a pick up truck at 60-65 mph north bound on NE 82nd from SE Foster to the airport every morning(for years)at about 6:30am. It’s often faster than the 205 even with stop lights. On this route I see drivers doing some dangerous things, but no enforcement at that time of day. “Avenue of Roses”, it is also called by Venture Portland.
The real issue is the lighting. There are only lights on one side of the street and this spot on 82nd is incredibly dark at night, when several people have been hit here.
I wonder why ODOT didn’t spring for some crosswalk striping? It seems like it would be worth the added safety, even if it had to be redone when the permanent changes are done.
I’m not surprised the third photo is captioned, “Someone honked at this person…” who was stepping off the median to cross. Too many drivers think people shouldn’t be crossing–or at least shouldn’t be expecting cars to stop for them–if they’re not in a marked crosswalk. That’s especially true at this location, because the corners aren’t aligned, so the crossing hits the non-hotel-side sidewalk far from the corner. With someone crossing so far from the corner and with no marked crosswalk, people will treat them as “jaywalkers”. The curb ramps and wands don’t say “stop for this person crossing”, legally or otherwise. The crossing signs are important but don’t substitute for crosswalk markings. And again, why not do both?
Why is this portion of 82nd 5 lanes? A 3 lane cross section would be vastly safer for pedestrians, as it would eliminate the multiple threat and slow speeds. With daily traffic at ~17k, it would still function reasonably well for motorists.
3 lanes would be vastly safer for pedestrians than 4 or 5 lanes in a lot of places. It would still functional for motorists, but you know how loud those poor motorists scream when they lose even the tiniest bit of space.
Another significant issue is the peak acceleration at this stretch of 82nd. When driving a motor vehicle it’s real easy to not lift your foot off the accelerator as it’s a clear, fast wide stretch of roadway while coming off a decline from the north, and from the south you need to give it some gas to get up the upcoming hill in order to maintain your speed. So, there needs to be other traffic calming devices before motor vehicles enter this space.
And the lighting! There is zero pedestrian lighting on 82nd, like the rest of Portland. This is a very dark city in general; It’s dangerous for people who bike, walk, and roll.
Seems they forgot to stripe yet again. Paint is borderline useless, yes, but the egregious lack of it city-wide builds the wrong type of driving culture.
Do they ever skip out on painting freeway lanes? Couldn’t they just have a seldom read/followed state law regulating widths?